creation

Sown Up With Love

"He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." --Colossians 1:17

Read: Colossians 1

To imagine God carefully knitting our souls together is, well, tough to imagine. It's easier to picture Him forming mountains than it is to see him fashioning hearts. But nothing in all creation was created with more care. Compared to you, Everest is a mole hill and the Sahara is a single grain of sand. Are the heavens amazing? Absolutely. Does the earth pronounce His splendor? Without a doubt. But only you and I were sown up with one distinguishing trait and something no star above can claim: choice.

And much like an artist puts a signature on his work, God signed us. That's right. In our very cells, God made His mark. Pictured here is the actual structure of the protein molecule that binds all of our cells together: Scientists call it laminin, but let's just call it love.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: I first learned about Laminin from my Louie Giglio. Folks, isn't it amazing how we're held together? From Heaven down to earth, it's all about the Cross. What will you do today to protect what protects you?

To hear Louie Giglio talk about Laminin, watch his Indescribable series. Be blessed! (I had the blessing of listening to Louie for 4 years at Baylor University.) While I was at Muscle & Fitness, Louie was the one who first told me that we need to "embrace our smallness". A theme that I would never forget.

 

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Miracle. Grow.

"'I tell you,' he replied, 'If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." --Luke 19:40

Read: Luke 19

I know I'm getting older and much more sentimental because few things in life nowadays are as great as overhearing my wife talking to her plants. Can you relate? Her voice changes in pitch as she compliments and encourages. She apologizes to those not getting enough sun and to those getting too much. Supplying all that love simply brings her pleasure.

I like to think about how sentimental God must be. He cares for us, talks to us, feeds us and protects us. We're alive simply for His pleasure, and He loves to watch us grow. But the cool thing is, we're the part of His creation designed to thank and praise Him in return. And friends, our approach to health is an act of stewardship, and our fragile bodies are a means to praise Him and serve others; music to His ears. With today's verse in mind, let this be another day we keep rocks quiet. After all, if we find fulfillment when the things we love respond, just imagine God, seeing His little miracles grow.

--Jimmy Peña

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: Static Strength

In breaking from the more dynamic, high-energy workouts that usually appear here on Mondays, this week's workout is a bit static...literally. We're going to take one exercise which doesn't allow you to move whatsoever. The stationary wall squat is an isometric (or static) exercise that works to strengthen your entire lower body (quads, glutes, hamstrings), all without movement.

>> Click here for a detailed explanation and the protocols for the workout.

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You Have Some Body

"God saw all that he had made, and it was very good." --Genesis 1:31

Read: Genesis 1

When we think of creation, it's easy to think of the depths of the ocean floor. Mention God creating the world and our minds gravitate toward the peaks of Everest. Trees, birds, deserts, the sun. Some of God's best work, wouldn't you agree? But folks, He didn't rest until He made us. He didn't stamp "It was very good" until He gave us freckles, elbows and our little toes. His glorious face wouldn't show a Father's pride until He saw a smile on ours.

Make no mistake, you're not one. When you think of creation, look in the mirror. When you consider the breadth of His work, take a deep breath yourself. Because when He said it was good, He was looking at you. What did He see? His image. Rediscover His handiwork. You have some body.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: How often do you stop to ponder the amazing craftsmanship of the Maker? How many times during the day do you stop to marvel at the function of your limbs, the cadence of your heartbeat or the countless other functions that God breathed into you? How often do you take these things for granted? Why or why not? Give your honest responses in the comments section below.

BOOST HEART HEALTH This wonder food can help lower bad cholesterol by 16% Keeping your heart vibrant and healthy goes way beyond exercise and eating less. But luckily, there are foods that you can eat that can boost your efforts. This source of healthy fat has been shown to reduce your levels of LDL, or bad cholesterol, significantly.

>> Click here for the full story.

Beating Miracles

"So God created mankind in his own image." --Genesis 1:27

Read: Genesis 1

I sat there on the table, lying back with my shirt open, 12 electrodes connected to my torso. The nurse, sitting beside a monitor, applied a generous helping of gel to my chest. When she began her passes with the ultrasound wand, the monitor sprang to life with flickering images of my heart and speakers bellowed the sounds of my life's blood passing through its four chambers. And though this echocardiogram was just part of a scheduled follow-up, I realized that the simple, constant miracle that is my heartbeat is anything but routine.

Among the things we take for granted on a daily basis, our heartbeat has to be right at the top of the list. This muscle, which is about the size of your fist and sparked into action around 40 days after you were conceived, beats rhythmically in your chest to the tune of 100,000 times per day, carrying oxygen and other nutrients to the rest of your body. Rarely, if ever, do we stop to acknowledge its existence -- we simply count on it to do its job.

Equal parts meticulous and miraculous, our hearts were crafted and set into motion by a loving God whose will it was for us to use them to thrive, to move, to play, to worship, to witness. Isn't it possible that all of these traits are more intimately connected than we may have ever imagined? Without the heart -- or the body for that matter -- what's the soul to do?

--Eric Velazquez

Question: Knowing that God created your heart with both passion and purpose, and that a physically healthy heart can make you more spiritually effective, what will you do today to make it stronger?

RECIPE: ORANGE-CHOCOLATE COOKIES

Ready for dessert? Try this tasty, guilt-minimal recipe from PrayFit contributing nutritionist Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC.

You Have Some Body

"God saw all that he had made, and it was very good." --Genesis 1:31

Read: Genesis 1

When we think of creation, it's easy to think of the depths of the ocean floor. Mention God creating the world and our minds gravitate toward the peaks of Everest. Trees, birds, deserts, the sun. Some of God's best work, wouldn't you agree? But folks, He didn't rest until He made us. He didn't stamp "It was very good" until He gave us freckles, elbows and our little toes. His glorious face wouldn't show a Father's pride until He saw a smile on ours.

Make no mistake, you're not one. When you think of creation, look in the mirror. When you consider the breadth of His work, take a deep breath yourself. Because when He said it was good, He was looking at you. What did He see? His image. Rediscover His handiwork. You have some body.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: How often do you stop to ponder the amazing craftsmanship of the Maker? How many times during the day do you stop to marvel at the function of your limbs, the cadence of your heartbeat or the countless other functions that God breathed into you? How often do you take these things for granted? Why or why not? Give your honest responses in the comments section below.

RECIPE: HEALTHY FRENCH TOAST What's for breakfast? After reading this recipe, the only acceptable answer may be French toast. But not just any French toast -- Angelo Family French Toast. PrayFit contributing nutritionist Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, walks us through her guilt-reduced recipe for this breakfast favorite.

>> Click here to get started.

He Gets Us

"For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust." --Psalm 103:14

Read: Psalm 103

If focusing on creation and how we were wonderfully made has taught me anything, it's that God gets us. He gets why we worry. Why else would He constantly encourage us to have faith? He gets why we suffer. Why else would He urge us not to lean on our own understanding? And yes, He also gets the body.

As He formed us, He set limits. As He encased our soul with flesh, He numbered our days on purpose. See, most sculptors never hope to reunite with their design, but God does. We're all He thinks about! Artists may pour heart and soul into their work, but our heart and soul is His work, and He wants us back. His biggest desire for our lives is that we meet the source of our lives. And if Jesus is in our hearts, He gets us.

--Jimmy Peña

PRAYFIT: WEEK IN REVIEW Revisiting a week's worth of faith-building and healthy living

Faith

BE HEALTHY, QUIETLY: No need to brag...let's let the byproducts of our obedience do the talking

A TRAINING PRAYER: A prayer to take into your next training session...and the one after that

BE STILL AND RUN: Today, kneel, bow your head and run

STILL TIME TO DANCE: It's never too late to start moving more

Fitness

WORKOUT: An at-home workout for bolder shoulders in 10 minutes flat NUTRITION: How soy can help you recover faster, boost health

COOKING TIP: Learning how to make a healthier banana bread

FAT-BURNING TIP: How training hungry can burn more fat

Can't Be Silent

“‘I tell you,’” he replied, “‘if they keep quiet, the rocks will cry out.’” –Luke 19:40

Read: Luke 19:28-40

The song of creation. Can you hear it? You and I are God’s special guests in a masterpiece performed in His honor that He conducts. Not only that, He’s given us “first chair.” In orchestra speak, first chair is reserved for the one who is both most capable and responsible, regardless of the instrument they play. You and I are active participants in a grand arrangement entitled, 'Creation.'

When the Pharisees demanded Jesus to quiet the praise of His disciples, He assured them that if the disciples hush, they would literally hear rock music. But the idea of God’s people being quiet is probably as sad a commentary as I’ve ever read…like a father who comes home to a silent family oblivious to his presence, or a mom who has never heard her children say, "I love you." Friends, the God of wonder, who has a beyond-conceivable love and unbelievable future for us is worthy to be praised with everything we have — our minds, our money, our time, and yes, our bodies.

The song of creation. Are you playing it? It’s your life. Your cue! You can’t be silent. He gave you the music. You are the music. Just read the notes and watch the Master. You’re in the first chair. Be amazed…and play.

--Jimmy Peña

EXERCISE IN FOCUS: Push-Up

Our workout of the week, a home-based strength-and-conditioning gem, includes the push-up. Here's a closer look at this staple exercise.

Standard Push-Up | Focus: Chest, shoulders, back, abs

Get into a push-up position with your body in a straight line, feet together, hands wider than shoulder-width apart and your eyes focused on the floor. Press yourself up to full arm extension, keeping your abs tight and back straight. Squeeze your arms and chest at the top then lower yourself to the start and repeat. Don’t bounce your chest off the floor, but rather start each rep when your chest reaches a point an inch or so away from the floor.

>> VIDEO: The Push-Up

CAN'T BE SILENT

September 16, 2011Read: Luke 19:28-40

"'I tell you,'" he replied, "'if they keep quiet, the rocks will cry out.'" --Luke 19:40

The song of creation. Can you hear it? You and I are God's special guests in a masterpiece performed in His honor that He conducts. Not only that, He's given us "first chair." In orchestra speak, first chair is reserved for the one who is both most capable and responsible, regardless of the instrument they play. You and I are active participants in a grand arrangement entitled, 'Creation'.

When the Pharisees demanded Jesus to quiet the praise of His disciples, He assured them that if the disciples hush, they would literally hear rock music. But the idea of God's people being quiet is probably as sad a commentary as I've ever read...like a father who comes home to a silent family oblivious to his presence, or a mom who has never heard her children say, "I love you". Friends, the God of wonder, who has a beyond-concievable love and unbelievable future for us is worthy to be praised with everything we have -- our minds, our money, our time, and yes, our bodies.

The song of creation. Are you playing it? It's your life. Your cue! You can't be silent. He gave you the music. You are the music. Just read the notes and watch the Master. You're in the first chair. Be amazed...and play.

--J.P.

PRAYFIT: A WEEK IN REVIEW

Monday >> YOU, HE KNITTED: From the vastness of space to the intricacies of your body, He created you with care >> ALSO: A workout to help you build strength and burn fat in just minutes

Tuesday >> SOWN UP WITH LOVE: The ultimate symbol of sacrifice is imprinted on our hearts -- literally and figuratively >> ALSO: How to boost strength instantly by 20%

Wednesday >> HE KNEW: He carefully constructed us, knowing that what the world would reject, Christ would accept. >> ALSO: How to select a cereal that's healthier for your breakfast table

Thursday >> HE GETS US: Sculpted in His image and by His own hand, we know He understands us >> ALSO: How interval training turns up your ability to burn fat

HE GETS US

September 15, 2011Read: Psalm 103

"For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust." --Psalm 103:14

If focusing on creation and how we were wonderfully made has taught me anything this week, it's that God gets us. He gets why we worry. Why else would He constantly encourage us to have faith? He gets why we suffer. Why else would He urge us not to lean on our own understanding? And yes, He also gets the body.

As He formed us, He set limits. As He encased our soul with flesh, He numbered our days on purpose. See, most sculptors never hope to reunite with their design, but God does. We're all He thinks about! Artists may pour heart and soul into their work, but our heart and soul is His work. (And He wants us back). His biggest desire for our lives is that we meet the source of our lives. And if Jesus is in our hearts, He gets us.

--J.P.

INTERVALS: METABOLISM BOOSTER

We'll say it again: high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is the best method of cardio for maximizing fat and weight loss. Interspersing max- or near-max efforts with less intense bouts of recovery simply challenges your body in a way that traditional, steady-state training does not.

A new study published in the American Journal of Physiology sheds some light on another way that HIIT burns more body fat.

"Researchers reported that six weeks of HIIT increased the amount of special proteins in muscle that are responsible for carrying fat into the mitochondria (where fat is burned away for fuel) by up to 50 percent," says Jim Stoppani, PhD, co-author of "PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days." "Having more of these proteins in muscle means that more fat can be burned up for fuel during workouts and when resting."

Try these PrayFit-crafted HIIT workouts to start building a stronger, more efficient body. And remember -- intensity is relative. Just give your best effort during the intervals. Everyone has a best -- this type of workout has you seek it repeatedly. And while most think "running" when it comes to cardio, you can perform your favorite aerobic activity in its place. Speedwalking, heavy bag work, jump rope or cycling are all perfectly acceptable substitutes for any HIIT running program you encounter. Simply apply the same training protocols to get greater benefits.

TREADMILL HIIT

HIIT PARADE

 

HIGHER

July 14, 2011Read: Genesis 1

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." -- Genesis 1:1

Experts agree that with NASA's launch last week, man has officially traveled as high as he'll ever go. Thirty years after the shuttle's first mission to the final frontier, the program lifted off on its last.

Oh my friends, we may not be able to puncture space, but the composer and conductor of the universe will someday take us much higher. The galaxies we can't reach are not out of His, and what we call the final frontier is really just the beginning. Our limits are good reminders that He has none. Astrologists may tell us the sun is the center of it all, but if we want to go even higher, we'd be wise to seek the Son...the center of it all.

-J.P.

6 TIPS FOR MINDFUL EATING

A National Institute of Health (NIH) study on binge eaters examined how eating pace affected satiety but the results can be broadly applied by anyone looking to achieve or keep to a healthy weight.

According to the research, which was reported in the Harvard Medical School newsletter, digestion involves a complex series of hormonal signals between the gut and the nervous system, and it seems to take about 20 minutes for the brain to register satiety (fullness). If someone eats too quickly, satiety may occur after overeating instead of putting a stop to it. There’s also reason to believe that eating while we’re distracted by activities like driving or typing may slow down or stop digestion similar to how the “fight or flight” response does. And if we’re not digesting well, we may be missing out on the full nutritive value of some of the food we’re consuming. Use their six tips to maintain reasonable sized portions and to get more nutritive value out of what you're eating.

1 Set a timer to 20 minutes and use the entire time to eat a normal-sized meal.

2 Try eating with your non-dominant hand. If you're a righty, hold your fork in your left hand during meals.

3 Use chopsticks if you don't normally use them.

4 Eat silently for five minutes, thinking about what it took to produce that meal, from the sun's rays to the farmer to the grocer to the cook.

5 Take small bites and chew well.

6 Ask yourself if you're really hungry before foraging through the fridge or pantry.

>> APPAREL & GEAR: Make a fashion-forward statement about your dedication to faith and fitness by shopping at the PrayFit online store.

THE NEW YEAR IS IN ME

January 3, 2011Read: 2 Corinthians 5

"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old is gone, the new is here." --2 Corinthians 5: 17

The confetti is all but cleaned up, the streamers are in the trash, and the calendar is brand new. Deep breath...ah, so this is 2011! But it doesn't take long for things to feel normal again does it? For some reason, the commute this morning is still bumper to bumper, co-workers are still grumpy, and junk food made its way to your lunch box. Seems last year's ho-hums and habits still cast their shadows.

Truth is, a new year is only new if we make it that way. For you and me, a change in year only matters when it changes in here (this is me pointing to my heart). So starting today, no matter what seems old, let's find a way to make it new. That commute? Try seeing it as an extended quiet time with the Lord. Those co-workers? Be the only one in the office unwilling to gossip. And at lunch, be the first to push away from the table as a way to praise the Lord for health. Slowly but surely, we'll realize the difference is in us. Seems those weren't shadows after all.

It was shade.

--J.P.

START THE NEW YEAR WITH PRAYFIT

January 6 marks the "official" nationwide release of PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days. It's only days away, but it's been circled on our calendars for months. Now that it's here -- just in time for our season of renewal -- we hope (and pray) that you'll welcome this date with similar enthusiasm.

"We can't tell you how excited we are," says Jimmy Pena, founder of PrayFit. "It might not be the last fitness book you'll ever buy, but with today's steep decline of faith, we feel it's the one book this country needs more than ever."

This book is great for beginners, someone coming off of a long layoff, or even the seasoned athlete wanting to maintain his or her stamina. It's a bodyweight-only, at-home workout and devotional replete with nutrition tips and meal plans.

"You've got to pick one up for yourself and for a friend or loved one!" says Pena.

But PrayFit is much more than what fills those pages. Find out below how you can use PrayFit to make 2011 one for...the books!

>> LEARN: To learn more about PrayFit: Your Guide to A Healthy Body and A Stronger Faith in 28 Days, click here.

>> START: For a message from the founder and some tips on how to use PrayFit.com as an ongoing resource for your faith and fitness goals in 2011, click here.

>> SHARE: Build accountability into your program for the new year by starting your own fitness journal and engaging with other PrayFit users at our forums.

>> NETWORK: We're a faith and fitness community...and we're digital. "Like" us at the Official PrayFit Facebook page or "Follow us" on Twitter.